TUESDAY 5-2-19

Fortunately the wind did not increase overnight Sunday to the level we had to endure the night before. that meant I could get a good night's sleep.

Yesterday was a lovely day with clear blue skies and sunshine, but we still had that cool breeze. Not enough to cause a problem, but enough to make it a bit uncomfortable to sit about in. Fortunately we could hide in the awning, draught free.

In the afternoon I deep cleaned the gas barbecue following a 'barbie' at lunchtime. This has enabled me to store it in the rear garage ready for home. It's surprising how mucky they get and is always the downside of a barbecue.

This morning we woke to a correctly forecast lovely day with not a breath of wind, and we were able to make the most of it by taking our small folding chairs and lunch down to the beach. We expected to see numerous campsite visitors down there, but instead had it almost to ourselves, save for a small group of elderly Spanish folk who sat near us for lunch and the usual dog owners out on the beach despite clear signage everywhere forbidding it.

We need to make the most of the sunshine and warm temperatures over the next few days as we'll be heading home next week. The Chef having injured her ribs about ten days ago, has certainly reduced our ability to get out and about, but never mind, we manage.

I want the vehicle ready by Sunday night so that we can hit the road any time from Monday onwards depending on the weather forecasts across Europe. It will seem a bit crazy I suppose, leaving all of this behind to return to an English winter, but we've been here almost two months and it has broken our record for sitting around. It doesn't come easily to us as we prefer to tour and be on the move visiting a variety of locations. Had we not had the awning with us (and won't have in future), I think we would have moved further south a few weeks ago, but for now we're happy to be heading home. At the end of the day we have still been able to miss a chunk of the winter, which is more than most folk back home have been able to do.

The days are becoming noticeably longer which is most welcomed, because as soon as the sun goes down we're all driven indoors. I think when we first arrived it was starting to get dark at about 16:00, and now it's nearly 18:00 and the sun is still shining. It really does make a difference.

 

 

Amelie

Amelie

The sight which greeted me this morning having spent the night piling stuff up on all walls, particularly on the windward side

SUNDAY 3-2-19

On Friday, despite best intentions we failed miserably to get to the beach just a couple of blocks away. I guess we just lacked motivation, though we were still experiencing a fairly cool breeze, as a consequence much of the day was yet another nothing day. 

The highlight of the day was when our lovely neighbours across the way, Bob and Sue, kindly invited us to join them and their two friends for a drink, and very enjoyable it was too. Our evening meal was a masterly presentation of pizza from the supermarket across the road. 

Yesterday, tired of being stuck on the campsite, we went for a walk along the promenade then back through the town for a bit of fresh air and exercise. There was still a cool breeze, but it wasn't a problem, as it's easy enough to wrap up warm, that's easier than trying to keep dry in the rain, of which we've seen almost nothing since our arrival.

Late in the afternoon the wind became quite strong, with very nasty gusts which was causing the awning an awful lot of grief.

For our evening meal The Chef rustled up a stir fry, washed down with half a bottle of white wine, decanted from a box of wine I had, which, in all honesty should have been saved for domestic cleaning jobs, I think the air got to it.

As for the reliability of weather forecasts - on Friday morning I clicked on the TV version of the BBC Weather forecast for Europe. The forecaster standing in front of the map was quite certain that there was a northerly airstream blowing across the whole of the UK  bringing with it ice and snow, this airstream would then cross the Bay of Biscay, dump snow in the Pyrenees, as well as northern Spain before turning left and heading towards us, appearing from over the mountains behind us.

Ummm, I thought, that's a bit worrying.  But I needn't have worried, because on the same BBC website their computer was forecasting good things with a light to moderate breeze, which was supported by the local weather forecast posted outside the Reception Office.

This confusion was annoying, as the only correct forecast was the man who predicted the worst situation of all, and we got eighteen hours of strong winds with gusting which resulted in me spending much of the night up and down out of bed, then in to the awning doing whatever I could to prevent it from becoming airborne.

The problem was the very strong gusts were coming up behind us and pounding the awning on its right side. As the pitch is too small to position the vehicle sideways across the wind thus allowing me to move the awning to the leeward side, there was little I could do to salvage the situation. I kept as much as I could against the windward side to prevent any further intrusion of the canvas as it pushed in to the living space by the force of the wind, at the same time the lightweight frame was bouncing up, down, and sideways, like a gay's bottom on a visit to Brighton.

We awoke this morning to a lovely clear blue sky and sunshine, though we did still have that cold northerly wind.

This evening we went to the campsite restaurant for our regular Sunday Roast. But wait.........tonight was to be different. We told the waitress that last week's roast had so little meat on the plate that it was almost the vegetarian option. She apologised, and said that she was not working last Sunday (the poor staff only get one day off a week). So tonight we had the set menu, three courses and a drink. Better value all round, though I'm sure we'll give the Sunday Roast another try for what should be our last Sunday here next week.

As for the online BBC news, well, I am very reassured to know that Unilever are stockpiling Ben & Jerry's ice cream and Magnum ice cream bars ahead of the UK's departure from the EU. It's good to know that however bad things get post Brexit, the obese won't suffer in anyway. The thought of them laid across their sofas watching the Jeremy Kyle Show without a tub of Ben & Jerry's to comfort them would have  caused me concern.

Come to think of it I could do with a few of them right now to lay around the edges of the awning to make sure it doesn't take off in the wind. If they succeed then I'd gladly buy them an ice cream each as a 'Thank you'.

And finally on  a high note, and a demonstration of how old age can creep up and grab you.

When I left the Royal Navy in 1973 with a skill that was of no use to man nor beast in Civvy Street, I found myself working as the manager of a busy local newsagents for three years until I got a new direction in life. One of my paperboys, Alan, became an item  with one of my Saturday shop staff, Janice, and they eventually went on to be married, with my two girls as bridesmaids. Well today I had a text message from Alan informing me that they were now grandparents to a lovely little girl, Amelie. Photographs are attached because I know folk like that sort of thing, though I will not share further information about either Amilie or her family as I believe folk should not be identified without their expressed consent on social media such as this. 

 

THURSDAY 31-1-19

Well this is a bit embarrassing. Us old people come away to spend our Winter Fuel Payment bonanza, designed to keep us warm, and we end up with - a cold.

Mine has just about gone now, and The Chef is on the mend now in that her ribs don't hurt as much, but her cold is starting to take effect.

Yesterday I went shopping on my own with some pocket money The Chef gave me from her purse. It was just for a couple of bits and pieces, so I was entrusted with a whole five euro note.

Thankfully the wind had dropped and so we sat outside the awning for much of the day soaking up the sun. It really does feel lovely and hot if you don't have to endure the cool wind, be it strong or a light breeze.

Last night was Quiz Night, but we were not to join our six-person team, 'The Fab Six', as I didn't want to infect others, and The Chef wasn't feel much up to much. Last night the team consisted of Bob and Sue across the way, together with Pauline and Kevin, who had joined us for the past two weeks, and another pair taking our place who we haven't met, but knew from his beach volleyball. Blow me they only went and one sixth prize, so well done them. Pauline and Kevin are now about to make their way back to the UK as their caravan needs some work doing to it under warranty. Next week we shall rejoin the team.

Whilst they were all up at the restaurant enjoying themselves, The Chef and I were checking out ferry sailings from Spain, back to the UK as we are now getting very close to wanting to go home. Would you believe it, they're all full. Sue across the way said this morning that Brittany Ferries have one major ferry out of service due to planned maintenance and so are running less sailings. They're not kidding, nothing out of Santander or Bilbao that's available, so that's settled that one then - we'll have to do it the hard way again and drive all the way to Calais.

This morning didn't lift our spirits as it was a cool and cloudy day, and remained so until about 16:00.

I was up in reasonable time to get some hand washing done, though when the sun failed to shine for most of the day I became concerned as to whether or not it would dry. Thankfully it did, but I had to leave it out for as long as possible before tackling it with the small travel iron.

After the washing came a wander down to the Thursday market with yet more pocket money and a shopping bag. This time I was hoping to find some more nice looking walnuts, as it was, luck was on my side and I managed to buy one kilo for €6.98. I was concerned that I'd end up on the naughty stool when I got back as they are usually about five Euros, but I guess that's supply and demand for you, as it looks as if they're coming to the end of their season. Having dived in to the Mercadona supermarket across from the campsite on the way back for a nice crusty baguette and a bottle of milk I felt a proppa shoppa.

The rest of the day was nothingness, spent mostly in the awning enjoying the warmth that comes though the canvas, rather than braving it out in the fresh air.

So that's it then. The visit to the beach for a sit down and lunch should now happen tomorrow, rather than today, and we will begin to prepare ourselves for heading home on, or after Monday  11th February. The exact day will depend on the weather forecast, as I'd like to identify a window three days clear weather through which we can make our way to Calais via Lyon on the toll roads. From there we'll jump on the Channel Shuttle which will take us back to Blighty without the fear of cancellations due to rough seas.

People back home may well consider us mad, given the freezing weather the UK is enduring at the moment, but I'm hoping that we'll miss the worst of it by the time we get to Calais. Besides there are more important things than a bit of sunshine. We are blessed with good, friendly neighbours, and we will be glad to get back and see both them and family members. By then we'll have broken our five-week record for staying in one place, which was set here a couple of years ago, by the time we leave here it will be two months, and for us that's long enough, too long in fact. There will be no long-stays in the future. We're going back to purely touring, It's what we know, and what we like doing best.

TUESDAY 29-1-19

Well, this posting is a bit of an embarrassment really. For the past two days the Chef continues to hobble about like an old lady with a rib injury whilst I now find myself struggling to survive with a dose of Man-flu. This was kindly given to me by those lovely Brits who so selfishly came on the coach trip to Valencia whilst still infected with the flu or something. Maybe one day in the future I'll have the opportunity to repay them. Maybe I'll contract a nasty case of leprosy whilst on holiday in some exotic location, and can then track them down and knock on their front door. Well that's if my arms haven't fallen off of course.

So we've not really been anywhere or done anything other than my going up to the local 'Farmacia' for some more Ibuprofen for The Chef, and some Paracetamol for myself. About five pound fifty for the two boxes. Unfortunately the supermarkets don't sell the much cheaper BP equivalent here, leaving folk to dig deep at the 'Farmacia'. No wonder there are so many of them about, it's a nice little earner.

Fine dining this evening was a barbecue consisting of chicken drumsticks, burgers, British bangers, a small jacket potato, a bit of salad and some nice crusty bread. We didn't manage to eat it all as we just haven't been active enough to burn up the calories.

This evening is to be the latest nail in the coffin of democracy as our political masters continue to undermine the will of the people. Voting in the Commons is due in three hours, and we may try and watch it online. On the other hand we may not, as it's all far too depressing. If 'No Deal' is forced off the table, then we may as well throw the towel in and allow Baron Barnier and his little green frog Macron to roger us, because we will have lost our one remaining powerful bargaining chip, 'cos if it's gonna be bad for us, then it's gonna be bad for them, and only when that happens will they all sit down together and finally talk sensibly.

Hopefully The Chef and I are on the mend and I'll be able to post something in a couple of days, but if this Man-flu continues, then I may have to skip a day or two.

 And finally having just checked gthe BBC News website I see that in the current Uk weather situation of ice and snow, the 'Snowflake' generation are asking 'Do I need to go to work?' Well yes you do, and why is that? Well it's because all those members of the Fire, Ambulance and Police services got themselves to work, all of the NHS staff in our hospitals got themselves to work, the AA and RAC staff got themselves to work, so if they can do it then so can you.

The finale of the firework display

SUNDAY 27-1-19

My word the wind got up during the early hours of yesterday night. It's getting quite tiresome now as it's hard to get a proper night's sleep whilst lying there thinking about and listening to the awning bouncy and flapping about outside.

Yesterday was a nice warm sunny day and I cracked on with the housework, washing and ironing. Other than that it was a pretty nothing day really. The evening was again very noisy with the celebrations going on down in the town, supported in the campsite bar by an Elvis Presley tribute band.

Today has been lovely and warm, which makes it all worthwhile, though we will be setting our return date to the UK late next weekend having consulted the calendar and Brittany Ferries.

This afternoon, whilst The Chef continued to sun herself I had a wander in to town to see what was going on. Not a lot as it happened. Today is the final day of their festival, the latest excuse not to do very much. The portable bullring was finished with, as kids were playing around in it, and just beyond that a band played live music outside a popular bar. The 'High Street' had a market along some of it, selling predominantly art and craft bits and pieces.

This evenings fine dining was in the campsite restaurant for our usual Sunday Roast, Spanish style, although this week it was almost the vegetarian option as we only had four small, thin, slices of beef each. Hopefully next week will be better.

Later this evening we went down the road where they staged a marvellous firework display to mark the end of what was the Paella Festival, which followed on from the Saint Antoni celebrations.

Tomorrow we need to a bit of shopping down the road before heading off to the beach where I can suffer in silence as I endure the effects of a cold, kindly passed on to me by the selfish beggers on the coach trip to Valencia.

Quote of the week belongs to The Chef following our afternoon out at the Paella Festival on Friday where there was lots of food and wine "My legs didn't seem to work very well afterwards"

The Bonterra Park Paella party

Paella stalls all the way up the 'High Street'

Soaking up the sun whilst sat in the awning

FRIDAY 25-1-19

The windy weather with strong gusts continued throughout yesterday leaving me to conclude that nursing and worrying about a bouncing awning isn't worth the hassle. Therefore if we should have another such windy episode, then as soon as it has passed the awning will come down and the vehicle packed as if ready to hit the road. We will then just live out of the motorhome living space until we leave, with the luxury that we won't have to fret about the awning getting airborne or damaged for the rest of our stay.

We popped in to Lidl on the way down to the weekly market so that I could buy a few bits and pieces from their selection of offers on tools, commencing today. Then it was down to the market which turned out to be very depleted. Either the Spanish stallholders had a lie in, or they just couldn't be bothered to make the effort, what with the cool temperatures and wind. I was hoping we could buy some more walnuts but the ladies on our favourite 'nut' stall weren't there and the nuts on the other stalls didn't look that special. To top it all our Plan B failed miserably as the 'Macardo' supermarket across the road from the campsite didn't have any in. The Chef thinks that maybe they're coming towards the end of the season.

The rest of the day was spent inside the zipped-up awning soaking up the sun as it permeated through the 'window', causing the internal awning temperature to reach a lovely 24˚C.

Our evening meal was some Waitrose minced beef out of the freezer, potatoes and vegetables, followed by a bread and butter pudding, made from stale baguette bits with the crust cut off, and sultanas and custard powder we'd bought with us.

Fortunately today the wind had finally dropped. Rumours have it that the maximum gust recorded locally was 55mph - and it felt like it.

We had a blue sky, still air and sunshine, yet despite that I couldn't motivate myself to get changed out of my dressing gown and in to something more respectable. It didn't seem worth the effort since we were going in to town armed with two campsite tickets for the Paella festival starting at 12:00, or so I thought, but late in the morning The Chef told me it was 13:00. If I'd known that I would not only have got dressed but would have had some breakfast.

So scrubbed up we made our way in to town at 12:00 for the Paella Festival, so that we  could take a nice stroll up and down the 'High St' to see what was going on, before making our way back to the side street which had been blocked off for the Camping Bonterra Park riff raff to enjoy an afternoon of dining and drinking.

We ended up sitting across from our very  nice neighbours Bob and Sue and to my right side were the very nice couple who run the weekly quiz on a Wednesday night. there were 200 of us in total sat at our tables, all from the campsite.

Considering we only paid something like eight Euros each we got amazin g value for money starting with a salad in a bowl plus savoury nibbles, followed by the Paella, and fortunately mine didn't have any rabbit in it. This I have to say, never having sampled such 'foreign muck' was lovely, and most important of all was washed down with lashings of bottles of red wine. Dessert was an orange, but by that time nobody really cared.

As for the BBC News, I see that the CEO of Airbus is threatening to pull out of the UK if there is a No-Deal Brexit. "Brexit uncertainty a disgrace" he says, and he's right of course, we all know that.

So how do we resolve this difficult issue? I have a suggestion.

Airbus wings are made at a factory on Hawarden Airport, Broughton, Wales. The factory employs 6,000 skilled workers, as well as 3,000 at Filton who are involved in wing design and support. These are jobs we should not lose. So I propose that the UK government builds a huge factory next to the Airbus wings factory (check Google maps - there is space to do it) and leave it empty. Then we get a leader to grow a pair, and tell Airbus 'If you pull out of the UK we will nationalise your wing factory, keep the skilled workforce here in the UK, and then in the empty factory space next door, create a production line to build aircraft fuselages. Then  hey presto - we'll have ourselves a UK Civil aircraft industry again, and you'll have yourselves a competitor'.

Let's just stop this 'Project Fear' nonsense. We were once a great country and can be again, but we have to believe in ourselves. The EU believes in us, that's why they're doing their utmost to tie our hands in any deal, fearful that we'll beat them each and every time in a competitive market.

 

Opera House and Imax cinema

The Opera House

Location of the former river which ran through the city, now a recreation area

Mounted police

Valencia's railway station

WEDNESDAY 23-1-19

My word what a windy night Monday was, the motorhome and the awning bounced around for much of it. I even got up halfway through just to check on the integrity of the awning, but it was fine, it was just me being over protective.

Yesterday morning we were up at the disgraceful time of 07:15 in order to scrub up and have breakfast before joining the 09:00 'over sixties' coach trip to Valencia (pronounced with a listhp, Valenthia), a city we have visited before, but were very happy to visit again, this time without huge effigies waiting to be burned on display and spoiling photo opportunities.

The nice steady journey lasted about an hour, and in that short space of time we moved from sparrows and magpies to green parrots in the trees.

Fortunately we were dropped off at 'Torres de Serranos', an ancient twin tower fortification built in 1391, and which survived the demolition of the city' walls, which was much better than last time when we were left at the bus station, a considerable walk from the main part of the city.

We wandered through the city streets, armed with a map our accompanying 'guide' from the campsite had given us, making our way towards the railway station which we had heard was well worth a visit.

It was easy enough to find, with the bullring right next door, and The Chef was right we had seen it on our last visit, though why people rave about it I don't know. Yes it's got a very nice facade, but behind that it's the same as any other large station.

Next we made our way to the famous Central Market where we had hoped to buy a good value lunch. Unfortunately it was shut. Completely and utterly shut. Our tummies were telling us it was time to eat and so we went in to a small Spanish cafe run by a Chinese couple across the road, where we ordered the 'Breakfast Special' (this was about 12:00) which consisted of a small bottle of orange juice, a cup of coffee, and two thick rashers of bacon served on lightly toasted baguette and a fried egg. All for €5.50 each. Luvvly Jubbly. Who says this foreign cuisine can't be tasty. We did notice as we left that the owner had taken in the 'Breakfast Special' board, presumably because he had forgotten to do so much earlier, resulting in them having to prepare two more at lunchtime.

Then we walked towards the 'Arts & Science' complex using the delightful recreational area created  by the re-routing of the river some years ago due to flooding of the city, leaving a wide expanse of 'river bed' which has been made good use of.

The architecture of the complex was magnificent, and we only saw about 70% of it. Such futuristic design, giving one the feeling that you were living in the future.

From there we went across the road having spotted a Carrefour supermarket within a large indoor shopping complex. The purpose of our visit was to source a new electric kettle for the motorhome. But hey - guess what? It was closed, along with most other shops in the complex. We've got used to the idea of lazy Spaniards going for a lie down in the afternoon, but we have never before known it to effect a Carrefour supermarket or a large shopping complex. As I said to The Chef "If I ever win the Lottery and want to come on a shopping spree, it sure as hell won't be to Spain".

It was a long walk back to the city centre and I was beginning to regret having bought along with me a newish pair of shoes which had not yet had time to break my feet in.

When we got back to the pick-up point, with about twenty-five  minutes to go, we found ourselves talking to a couple of Brits from Cornwall who knew the neighbours we have back home, just about 150yds from our house who also have a motorhome, and who come down here regularly. They even knew their names which is more than we did. It's a small world.

Despite arriving at the pick-up point in about fifth and sixth place, by the time the pushing and shoving was done we were among the last to get on. As a result The Chef and I had to split up, she next to a woman on her own about half way along, and me getting the one remaining seat which was on the back row of five seats in the middle, trapped between the woman and her husband on my left who was coughing her guts up before we boarded, and a younger couple to my right who knew the sickoes on my left and bragged that they'd also been so ill that they'd consumed over 100 Paracetamol tablets between them since Christmas. As I approached the empty seat I said to them "I've come down here to get a dose of Flu" and the thick beggers thought I was joking "Oh, you'll get that alright here". I wasn't joking, I was having a pop at the selfish buggers for ever having boarded the bus in the first place.

I spent the whole trip back to the campsite taking shallow breaths through a small gap between my fingers which I had in front of my nose, and when I wasn't shallow breathing I was experiencing the stinking smell of the lunch the man to the right of me had enjoyed. Upon our return to the motorhome I had a swill and gargle of Corsodyl mouthwash and hoped  that would be enough to shield me from the flu which is creeping around the campsite, caused by selfish sods like those I had been forced to sit next to today. I don't think we'll be going on any more coach trips while we're here.

Our evening meal was a ham and cheese salad, washed down with a drop of vino.

This morning we could get up a bit later than yesterday and I could get a few chores done. Whilst doing a bit of hand washing I got chatting to a Scottish motorhomer who was saying that the wind was due to get up quite strongly by about lunchtime with gusts of over 40mph. That sure as hell wasn't what the BBC Weather website was saying this morning, and it was so fortunate I bumped in to him. It gave me time to make a few preparations before, sure enough, the wind got up, and boy did it gust. Having the awning bouncing around is rather concerning, as serious damage can be inflicted on it. I have paced out the length of the vehicle and then measured the width of the pitch in the same way, and as I suspected, it is too narrow to allow us to put the vehicles sideways across and reposition the awning allowing the motorhome to take the brunt of the north-westerly wind blowing off the mountains.

If the wind continues for days or we get further problems then it will have to come down and be put away, and we'll have to just live in the motorhome's living space. At least that way we'll be ready to hit the road heading for home. As things stand at the moment we're looking at leaving here on 13th February, driving up to Barcelona, and then on to catch a ferry back to Portsmouth. We have booked  nothing yet, and are playing it by ear, but we both feel we'll have had enough by then. How so many people can come here from October to March every year is beyond me. Much further south where it's warmer, sunnier and with warmer nights possibly, but not here, as nice as the campsite is. Still, we're all different, and if they enjoy it good luck to them though I suspect come Brexit the length of their stays will be curtailed somewhat.

Tonight was Quiz Night, but unfortunately we didn't manage to repeat our success of last week scoring seventy-five out of ninety, good, but not good enough. Never mind there's always next week.